I bought some plantains at the supermarket weeks ago for no good reason other than I had never seen plantains at the supermarket before. I had no idea what to do with them, but imagined it would be something salty. Chips? Fried plantains? Purée? Turns out Jé had other plans, and was hoping for something sweet. “It’s not a banana,” I told him. After a quick search through Epicurious, however, I found the perfect recipe. It was hidden amongst traditionally savory dishes, but I found it, and was very glad that I did. The only downside? The plantains, which were bright green, needed to be incredibly ripe, nearing black in color. And so, we waited. And waited. And waited. Until one day, like five weeks later, I finally made my first dulce de plantains.
I knew that with the recipe we couldn’t go wrong, even though I think we were both expecting the texture and taste of the plantain to basically be a banana. The recipe involved making a caramel sauce infused with dark rum and coconut milk. As we still had tropical Guadeloupe on the brain, land of rum and coconut, this suited us to a tee.
The sauce was amazing. I think I would’ve liked it even more drizzled over a freshly cooked crêpe. The plantains were interesting. Definitely less sweet than a banana, and a bit grainier. I was actually quite happy with the resulting flavors, as I think bananas would have been a bit too sweet. Two large plantains made enough for the both of us to eat twice. The caramel and plantains both held up to a couple of days in the fridge, and reheating over very low heat, about three or four minutes.
Dulce de plantanos
Recipe from Gourmet via Epicurious
2 large, incredibly ripe plantains, nearing black in color
1/4 C butter
1/4 C dark rum
1/2 C coconut milk
3/4 C sugar
1/4 C heavy cream
This one is super easy, and doesn’t require very many ingredients, most of which you probably have in your cupboard (other than the plantains, of course!). Peel the plantains and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat for a couple of minutes, then add the plantains. Cook them until they begin to brown, about 3-4 minutes per side, turning them carefully. Remove from skillet and prepare your caramel!
Start by heating the rum and coconut milk until just warm in a separate saucepan. Meanwhile, add the sugar to the remaining butter in your skillet and heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring often, until sugar dissolves and color becomes deep golden brown. Remove from heat and add the coconut milk and rum mixture. This is when it gets slightly tricky: your caramel will likely harden, and lumps may form. If you’re patient enough, by cooking the mixture over low heat and stirring very often for about 10 more minutes, you should be able to get them to dissolve.
Once the caramel is to your liking, place the plantains back in the skillet and allow them to cook for about five minutes longer. No need to stir at all during this phase! The finishing touch will be to add your heavy cream to the pan just before serving, shaking gently to incorporate it.
We ate our plantains just as they were, but the original recipe’s advice of pairing good vanilla ice cream with this dessert would have made it even better. A crème anglaise or even whipped cream would probably be nice too, just to cut down on the richness a little bit. Either way, this was a fun and unusual dessert for us, and one that I would highly recommend!